SAG still waiting on the sidelines

AFTRA and the majors are launching their second week of primetime negotiations today with no fanfare and SAG still stewing on the sidelines.

The American Federation of Television & Radio Artists and the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers held their first three days of talks last week with a news blackout in effect.

The negotiations, held at AMPTP headquarters in Encino, have gone smoothly so far. A deal is expected to emerge, but probably not until the end of this week at the earliest.

The Screen Actors Guild spent 18 days of feature-primetime bargaining with the AMPTP before talks ended Tuesday, with SAG objecting that it was near a deal and the majors contending that major gaps still existed over DVDs and new media. On Wednesday, AFTRA spurned a SAG bid to postpone its negotiations for a third time.

Both the SAG and AFTRA contracts expire June 30. The lack of resolution of the SAG deal’s preventing the greenlighting of most features, outside of 95 indie-financed pics that have been granted “guaranteed completion contracts,” allowing shooting to continue even if SAG strikes.

AFTRA split from joint bargaining with SAG in late March following a series of bitter jurisdictional disputes.

AFTRA’s contract covers “Rules of Engagement,” “Cashmere Mafia,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Flight of the Conchords,” “Dante’s Cove,” “Reaper” and “‘Til Death.”

With a new contract in hand prior to SAG, AFTRA’s expected to have an advantage in signing new TV shows.

The majors have offered SAG the chance to resume negotiations on May 28, but SAG hasn’t responded yet. It also hasn’t yet decided to ask its 120,000 members for a strike authorization, which requires a 75% approval.

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